Learning for Empathy - A journey towards Peace and Interfaith Harmony

UNESCO Pakistan concluded a daylong meeting at Pearl Continental Hotel with key stakeholder from Provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. The meeting was organized to discuss the ongoing regional initiative of UNESCO "Learning for Empathy" based on capacity building of teachers and students for bringing peace, harmony and empathy in the society through education.

UNESCO Pakistan, with their mandate to implement SDG 4; is striving to put efforts to cultivate knowledge of peace, harmony and positive behaviors among the students and teachers so that they can contribute in their respective communities for promotion of a harmonized and tolerant society.

Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director UNESCO Pakistan opened the event by sharing the role of education system in brining reforms in society and how the Madaris together with government schools can become a source of inspiration for the people regarding tolerance, peace and acceptance of difference of views. She stressed the need to educate the youth in different cultures and languages prevalent in Pakistan, adding that the diversity of climatic conditions, traditions and way of life of the people add to the enrichment of the society as does the diversity of faults. Ms. Jensen thanked Mr. Mahmood Jan, Mr. Zia Ullah Bangash and Mr. Muhammad Rafique Tahir for their presence and contribution in the effort UNESCO has started for the youth of Pakistan.

Adviser to CM on Education (KP), Mr. Zia Ullah Bangash, during his speech at the event stated, "Peace is a pre-requisite for development, peace is a pre-requisite for prosperity, Peace is a pre -requisite for rule of law and peace is a pre-requisite for social harmony". He further appreciated the role of UNESCO Pakistan for the initiative taken for capacity building of Madrassa and Public school teachers and students in light of peace building and becoming change agent. He maintained that the role of teachers and ulema is of vital importance in character building of students at educational institutions and madaris to achieve lasting peace and tranquility through elimination of extremism, sectarianism and terrorism from the society.

Along with the participation of Adviser to CM on Education (KP), the event was honored with presence of Deputy Speaker Provincial Assembly KP, Mr. Mahmood Jan. Mr. Jan emphasized on the key involvement of government, Madaris, education department and UNESCO for joint efforts in bringing peace within the nation for making Pakistan a progressive country. He further appreciated the work of UNESCO team for their extensive efforts in coordinating with Madaris, government schools and Education department. Deputy Speaker, Mahmood Jan said, "The government would take all steps, including institutional reforms, to benefit the people and establish peace and social harmony".

Further to the discussion in the meeting; Muhammad Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor for Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training reiterated the significance of Madaris working along the government school. He shared the recent advancement in Federal Ministry of Education with the participants of the meeting. Mr. Tahir informed that the Ministry of Federal Education & Professional Training will be opening a directorate, under which Seminaries (Madaris) would be registered and facilitated. Moreover, he expressed optimistic changes in the educational mindset of the nation since the directorate will help the seminaries in getting registration and will work as facilitation center for them. He applauded the work of UNESCO Pakistan and shared that government will provide complete support and guidance in the project implementation.

Participation from Jamia Usmania and Council of Islamic Ideology's Chairman, Mr. Qibla Ayaz was an evidence that both Madaris and government are sharing the same mandate of aligning the direction towards a peaceful and progressive nation. Mufti Ghulam expressed his views about Islam and said that Islam is a religion of peace, love and fraternity. Adding to his statement, Dr. Qibla Ayaz said "It is the role of the teachers to develop their students into responsible citizens of Pakistan. They have to mould them according to the teachings of Islam; they have to work as a team, which never surrenders when it comes to protecting its nation and land. The teachers have to play their role in order to protect this generation".

Mufti Ghulam, Senior Religious scholar from Dar-ul-Uloom Usmania shared that even if peace endeavors do not bear fruits they are sowing seeds that will nourish the soil to become fertile in future. Pakistan must continue its peace movement.

The event concluded with the agreement of joint collaborative effort for bringing peace and interfaith harmony in the country ; along with regular meeting of the committee members for sharing the progress and views.